What is Ecstasy/MDMA?
Ecstasy or MDMA is a synthetic drug made in illegal laboratories. Ecstasy tablets are supposedly made up of the primary ingredient methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA but the means needed to make this are increasingly difficult to obtain. Therefore, the formulation of pills marketed as ecstasy can vary greatly.
Tablets sold as ecstasy are likely to contain amphetamine combined with a synthetic hallucinogen rather than MDMA. Manufacturers can add anything they choose to the drug even using caffeine, dog deworming tablets and rat poison. Ecstasy or MDMA has effects similar to hallucinogens and stimulants. This drug can come in pills, capsules or as powder.
MDMA affects the brain by increasing the activity of at least three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These are naturally occurring chemical messengers within the brain. After being overstimulated by the use of MDMA, a period of depletion follows where the user feels depressed and lethargic.
Street Names for Ecstasy
Ecstasy produced as a pill is usually marked with a stamp or logo which acts as a sort of brand name for the illegal manufacturers. These are sometimes stolen from actual brands of luxury goods or taken from cartoon characters. Therefore the tablet form of ecstasy is often referred to by the stamp it is given, meaning that there are endless and ever changing ways the drug is referred to.
- X, E, or XTC
- Disco Biscuits
- Malcolm (or Malcolm X)
- Scooby Snacks
History of Ecstasy/MDMA
MDMA was originally developed in 1912 by a large pharmaceutical company. During the 1950’s it was used by the American army in psychological warfare tests and later in the 1960’s found a use as a psychotherapy medication to lower inhibitions.
It was really in the 1980’s that MDMA was rebranded as ecstasy and started to be consumed by the general public. It is seen very much to go hand in hand with the dance scene where it helped to keep people up and dancing all night. In many countries it was not made illegal until 1985 due to a number of related deaths and concerns for its safety.
What are the Effects of Ecstasy Addiction?
Ecstasy has effects similar to hallucinogens and stimulants. MDMA itself can have many harmful side effects but today a wide range of other substances are added into the mix which can have an infinite number of negative side-effects.
Ecstasy is a drug which is not commonly associated with addiction but it is a mind and mood altering substance. Those effected by addiction to this drug tend to be binge users but that does not mean the consequences are any less painful. Those who use in an addictive pattern often concurrently use other drugs and engage in high risk behaviours.
Every addict’s path into addiction varies. This is a complex disease with many underlying layers which coupled together with trauma, abuse, depression and anxiety make it difficult to diagnose and treat without effective residential addiction treatment.
- Decreased memory and cognitive function
- Changes in the brain chemistry – short term
- Changes in the structure and function of the brain – long term
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Disturbed sleep
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Lying to yourself/denial
- Apathy /Exhaustion
- Memory loss
- Mood Swings
- Potential increase in risky behaviour
- Financial problems
- Sexual problems
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Lack of interest in work/school
- Lack of interest and ability in maintain relationships/friendships
- Damaged relationships with family members
- Lying to others
- Damaged self-esteem and self-worth
- Damaged relationship with self
- Lack of interest in life
- Inability to function without the drug
- Continued use despite negative consequences
The signs and symptoms of ecstasy addiction get progressively worse over time and there will be no resolution until effective addiction treatment and aftercare are sought.
Withdrawal from Ecstasy
Withdrawal symptoms will vary in length and intensity depending on the individual, the severity of the addiction and the frequency of use. The main symptoms can include depression, fatigue and irritability.
The Two Stages of Withdrawal – Acute and Post-Acute
There are often two stages of withdrawal process from ecstasy addiction. The first stage has immediate acute symptoms and these are usually both physical and psychological. During stage two, former users experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS.
These refer to a number of psychological symptoms which can last for weeks or months after the user has stopped taking the drug. This is one of many reasons why residential treatment is the most effective way to treat ecstasy addiction.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Anger or emotional outbursts